After waking up, I wandered soullessly around the house, searching for something to eat for breakfast. As per usual, I took my iPad, sat down, and stared at the screen. It is not the weekend, nor am I sick from school. It is just another day of Zoom.
March 15, 2020, was the fateful day that changed a lot of my life. Schools got locked down; everyone now attends online classes. Almost every student is happy to hang around the house instead of going to school. However, things took a turn for the worst.
3 months, 6 months, a year. Time nonchalantly goes by, yet I could not just do that with my problems. Despite trying my hardest, I could not keep up my burnout from the last few years of hard work. I am an international student, and with the last few years going by somewhat smoothly, I thought it was finally the time to lay off a little bit.
It was not.
Quarantine was never the time to relax, a hard lesson I learned through my grades going downhill. I grew lazy, motivation was nonexistent, and the worst part: I felt like no one cared about me.
See, if my parents were nearby, I know that they would make sure that I would be studying hard during those trying times. That is not my intuition but rather the understanding of my Chinese family background. However, life often does not go in the way you want the most. Because of China locking down its borders, my parents were stuck in China, unable to come to the US. I, as the loving grandson I was, had to take care of my grandparents who previously traveled to the US to take care of me. Despite their attempts at understanding my school life, it just does not feel the same, and often makes me annoyed and disappointed. In a way, I kind of hated my parents for a while for not being around despite all their difficulties.
With conflicted feelings and only passable grades, I finished my sophomore year. I had hoped that the summer could clear my mind a bit, but instead, I found myself in the same loophole once again: lazing off, wanting to do something, and then lazing off again. Life became uninteresting, and I lost all meaning of why am I even in the US in the first place.
Fortunately for me, just like how Columbus made his decision to explore the American continent, I decided to begin my adventure in junior year, to try to be a good student and get to know my teachers better, unlike my sophomore year. The most important of all, however, is that my dad finally came to the US! I was never as motivated as that moment after the quarantine, and such motivation pumped me to study well for the next 3 months.
It was during that time that hope slowly drained away from me. The horrible habit of lazing came back once again to haunt me throughout my study sessions. l used various methods to escape from them, yet could not keep me away from all the distractions. I managed to keep my normal classes going at a pretty good grade, yet my Advanced Placement classes were almost a disaster…
2 years after the start of quarantine, I still could not escape my nightmare. My classes keep going, and my friend group still keeps expanding, yet the world I used to know became my hell. Every time I looked at my grades, they were all disappointments. I do not know how to face or connect with my teachers, and all I can do is just hide it all away, away from the people I know.
Under immense pressure, from both my parents and my last bit of sanity, I spilled my guts. I deteriorated, I collapsed, and I was enlightened. I had decided that studying is just a way to keep my laziness going. Only if I continue my study and work hard will I be able to live comfortably and without worrying too much, or else, I will be crushed under the pressure, just like how I am now.
Some people may say that it was an excuse for me to continue my entertainment alongside studying, and it was. Looking back, who at my age does not love entertainment? Why are they better at school than I am? Why can they keep themselves to the work that they do instead of playing all day? What I think they do is find meaning in their work. For some, it was stress coming from their parents. For some, having a good grade was simply their hopes and dreams. Luckily, I, despite all the struggle, had found that meaning, despite it being an excuse, and thus embraced my identity as a student.
2 and a half years later, while enjoying my summer, I reflected upon my experience and looked toward the future. Facing college, all of my previous problems seemed so insignificant and unworthy of my attention, yet I believe they are all meaningful and will make a difference. All the tears and sweat will pay off, and I hope, in the future, so will my college tuition.